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Twelve-day London Newsquest strike begins

18 June 2015

Journalists in south London started a 12-day strike over pay and conditions after talks failed to make enough progress.

Although management made some movement during negotiations at the arbitration service ACAS, there were still a number of issues unresolved.The NUJ has said it is prepared to continue talking.

Members in Southeast London, working on the News Shopper titles, have also voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over pay, staffing and redundancies. The strikes will take place on Monday 22 June and Tuesday 23 June.

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:

"The management needs to get back round the table to finish off discussions and tackle the unresolved issues.The strike is still on and our chapels are determined to make the strongest possible case to management that they have had enough of the cuts, low pay and oppose the restructuring.
"They will be reaching out to their readers, asking them to support their local newspaper and quality journalism, speaking to local and national politicians and will be calling on fellow trade unionists to show their solidarity. For many of the Newsquest staff, their conditions are just awful – and not awesome."

Some of the journalists employed on these titles are not paid the London living wage, yet Gracia Martore, the CEO of Gannett, Newsquest's American parent company, is paid £7.5m a year, a sum which would pay the salaries of 454 reporters.  Newsquest is one of the UK's largest regional newspaper publishers with more than 200 newspapers, magazines and trade publications, including 17 dailies and made profits of £52.8m.

The union has received support from local politicians and from London Assembly members Stephen Knight and Baroness Jones and Darren Johnson, who have written to Newsquest. Copy of letter from Green party AMs. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader candidate, added to the many messages of solidarity. He said:

“Local journalists play a vital role in our democracy – keeping councillors and MPs accountable to the communities they serve. I fully support NUJ members on strike in defence of their jobs, to be based in the communities they serve and to earn the London living wage as a minimum.”

See messages of support
 
You can see Martore and her executives on YouTube

The chapel’s demands include a 3 per cent salary increase and changes to a major reorganisation affecting Newsquest titles in South and Southeast London, including The Croydon Guardian, Sutton Guardian, Epsom Guardian, Wimbledon Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian, Balham and Tooting Guardian, Mitcham and Morden Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Surrey Comet, Elmbridge Comet, the Richmond & Twickenham Times, and the News Shopper series covering Dartford, Swanley,  Lewisham, Catford, Greenwich, Gravesham, Bexley and Bromley.

The NUJ wants to achieve:

  • No compulsory redundancies and a workable structure that suits the needs of the company and members of editorial.
  • A halt to plans to move journalists further away from the communities they serve.
  • A written guarantee that the implementation of new organisational systems will not result in further restructures or redundancies.
  • Fair pay for Newsquest South London journalists including the London Living Wage for all reporters.

The  South London Guardian chapel said:

"Our papers hold those in power to account, provide a voice to local residents and fight the rights of some of the most vulnerable people in society. If local newspapers are not properly staffed, important stories will be go unreported and residents will be left in the dark.  
"We are calling for Newsquest to invest in the communities it purports to serve. If you’re concerned about your local paper, please take five minutes to let the company know."

Ways you can support the strikers:

Send your messages of support to campaigns@nuj.org.uk

Tweet your messages of support to @NUJofficial.

Get in contact with the Newsquest & Gannett management @Gannett:  

Gracia Martore,  Gannett CEO,  Gannett Co, 7950 Jones Branch Drive McLean, VA 22107-0150 703-854-6000
 
Henry Faure Walker, chief executive, Newsquest Media Group Ltd, 30 Cannon Street,  London  EC4M 6YJ  h.faurewalker@newsquest.co.uk  @faurewalker

Gary Kendall,  managing director,  Newsquest (London) Ltd,  Floor 10, Quadrant House, The Quadrant,  Sutton, Surrey  SM2 5AS gkendall@london.newsquest.co.uk
 
If Newsquest does not see sense before Thursday and the strike goes ahead, we will be asking for financial help to aid the journalists out on strike. Please ask your branch to make a donation or feel free to make a personal donation.  You can email brass19@hotmail.com for details on how to make a donation.

If your paper is being affected, please ask your MP, London Assembly member or local councillor to get in touch with Newsquest  and ask them to intervene to support quality local newspapers. You can contact your member via the Write to them website.

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